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You probably heard us say this before: a cybersecurity incident can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone, with consequences that vary from data leaks to losing huge amounts of money or even regulatory fines. Companies shouldn’t neglect security incident management, and incident handling is not complete without a proper cyber incident response plan. Read on to find out more!

What Is Incident Response

Incident response refers to the steps that should be made to prepare for, detect, contain and recover from a cyber security incident. These steps are described in a document called incident response plan, along with all the procedures and responsibilities of the incident response team. 

Incident Response Plan

Cyber incidents are more than just technical issues; they’re also business complications. The sooner they’re dealt with, the less damage they’ll do – fortunately, more and more companies understand this (the incident response market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20.3% until 2023), and understand that they need a cyber security incident response plan. The incident response steps that are essential to this type of plan are the following: 

Preparation

This is the most important part of an incident response plan, as it affects how well an organization will respond in the event of a cyberattack. To enable the organization to address an incident, several critical factors must be implemented:

  • the incident response policy – a set of written principles, rules, or procedures that provide guidance;
  • the response strategy, taking into account the organizational impact that a security incident may have;
  • communication – an incident response team needs to know exactly whom they should contact, when and for what;
  • access control – it’s important for the incident response team to have all the necessary permissions to perform their tasks. 

Identification

In this incident response phase, incident response teams should determine whether an incident has occurred or not, based on information from various sources (firewalls, intrusion detection systems etc.). You want to know when did the event happen, how was it discovered, what areas have been compromised, if and how your operations will be affected, and also if the incident’s point of entry has been discovered.  

Containment

The containment stage refers to limiting further damage by isolating the infected endpoints or shutting down production servers. To preserve evidence and understand how systems were infiltrated, it’s also important to use some sort of forensic software that must take an image of them as they were at the time of the incident. 

During this stage, incident response teams should check for any backdoors the attackers might have installed, and apply security patches. 

Eradication

As I mentioned in a previous article, during this phase of a cyber security incident response plan, the root cause of a cybersecurity attack and all the malware that got into a system are eliminated. 

After the containment phase, eradication is the implementation of a more permanent repair. It’s critical because the response team’s goal should be to delete the access points that bad actors utilized to break into your network. All of the events that occur during this stage should be meticulously documented.

Recovery

Restoration efforts and data recovery are included in the recovery phase of an incident response plan. The response team should continue to monitor the affected systems for malicious activity after certifying that they have been properly recovered. It’s important to perform tests to check if the systems that were involved in the incidents are totally operational and clean.

Lessons Learned

The response team should submit a full report on the incident in the last step of the incident response plan to get insight into how each of the preceding phases could be improved. The report must also give a detailed account of what happened throughout the incident, so that it can also be utilized as new employee training material and as a reference for any team exercises. 

Security Incident Management

Security incident management is ensured by security incident response teams, who must prevent, manage and respond to cyber security incidents. 

The key activities in a security incident response team are incident management, incident investigation, technical analysis, incident scoping, communication, regulatory concerns, decision making, remediation and reporting. 

  • Incident management – the person in this role should oversee all the operations and gather information for future reports.
  • Incident investigation – this role involves the use of forensics across all endpoints to discover indicators of compromise.
  • Technical analysis – this position requires technical know-how, and can be occupied by malware, forensics or network analysts. 
  • Incident scoping  – the person with this task needs to discover the extent of a breach, and work closely with the technical analysts.  
  • Communication – internally and externally, crisis communications entails revealing the investigation’s findings, as well as the scope and potential repercussions.
  • Regulatory concerns – if a breach involves regulatory or compliance issues (and often they do), having someone on the team who knows how to handle disclosure requirements or deal with law enforcement groups is critical.
  • Decision making – during the course of incident response and investigation, key decisions will need to be made, and the team will need executive advice on how to continue.
  • Remediation and reporting – as mentioned before, documenting the entire process is essential to security incident response management, because it allows elaborating detailed remediation recommendations. 

Best Practices – and Tools that Might Help

When it comes to security incident response management best practices, here are a few things that you should keep in mind: 

  • never skip the recommended stages of incident response plans – it’s important to manage security incidents throughout their entire lifecycle. 
  • establish clear, detailed operational procedures, to enable security teams to stay calm during critical incidents and know exactly what needs to be done.
  • consider investing in automated communication technologies that allow teams to concentrate on tackling high-priority problems without losing time during a crisis.
  • if you lack the necessary expertise, outsource incident response management to a managed service provider, whose team of cybersecurity specialists can help you establish a high-level internal incident response strategy and provide emergency support in the event of a cyberattack.

In terms of security incident management tools, you need:

  • Security monitoring tools – Log analysis and management, SIEM, Network and Host-Based IDS, Netflow / Traffic Analyzers, Web Proxies.
  • Orientation / Evaluation tools – Asset Inventory, Threat Intelligence Security Research.
  • Remediation and Recovery tools – Incident Response Forensic tools, System Backup & Recovery Tools, Patch Management, but also Security awareness training tools and programs. 

Heimdal™ Security can help you with several of these aspects (Log analysis, SIEM, IDS, Traffic filtering, Asset inventory, Forensics, Patch Management), and the best option for you would be to try our EDR service – it is a unified endpoint management software that provides you with all the information you need regarding your company’s cybersecurity in a single dashboard.

Our enhanced EDR tool is a powerful cybersecurity solution that delivers endpoint protection, advanced investigation, threat hunting capabilities, and quickly responds to complex malware, both known and yet undiscovered.

It gives you more visibility into your endpoints and allows you to respond more quickly to threats, thanks to its multiple modules: Threat Prevention, Vulnerability Management, Next-Gen Antivirus, Ransomware Encryption Protection, Privileged Access Management, Application Control. 

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Wrapping Up

Although no one wants to experience a data breach or other security incident, it’s necessary to prepare for one. Do it by creating an incident response plan, knowing what to do in the event of an incident, and learning everything you can afterwards. 

Drop a line below if you have any comments, questions or suggestions – we are all ears and can’t wait to hear your opinion!

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